The village is a 2004 film directed by the beloved/hated M. Night Shyamalan. He’s a very controversial director: after the unanimously well-received The Sixth Sense (1998), he was celebrated as the next Spielberg. Then his films featuring surprise endings began to wear out, and perhaps The village is considered the beginning of his artistic decline. It was followed by Lady in the Water, 2006, but above all by the horrid The last airbender, 2010, and After Earth, 2013. Contrary to all expectations, it seems that the good M. Night is now becoming popular again thanks to the recently completed trilogy which began in 2000 with the good Unbreakable. But I digress. What is The Village about (don’t worry: as usual, no spoilers from me)?
In the Nineteenth century there’s a village isolated in the middle of a forest where it seems that the inhabitants live besieged by unmentionable creatures. They have a perimeter of defense with sighting towers and torches always lit at night, but otherwise lead a normal rural life. Things start to degenerate when people find skinned animal corpses in the village, perhaps a sign that the unmentionable creatures are about to attack…
The cast is exceptional: William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, and a young Bryce Dallas Howard (who’s now extremely popular). The soundtrack is nothing short of splendid, as well as the sound in general with the verses of the creatures and the squeaks of the forest constantly reminding us of the danger surrounding the village. The movie is well-directed and it succeeds in creating a tense and mysterious atmosphere.
And the plot… ok, maybe it’s because of the plot that this film has its fair share of detractors. The plot twist that worked so well in The Sixth Sense, in this case it’s not that spectacular. Why? Well, because it’s less powerful, so much so that the ending seems almost an anticlimax instead of a climax. Also, in this case it’s not as credible (there are a few things that don’t really work once you think about it…). If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. Also, I think that the story suffers from a rather excessive role of the Adrien Brody’s character, with the actions of this intellectually disabled person playing a crucial role to advance the plot.
But is this enough to justify the hate towards this film and, more generally, towards its director? In my opinion, no, it absolutely isn’t. Perhaps the reaction was so negative because of the marketing campaign which at the time (stupidly) presented the movie as a horror, while it’s more of a period drama with a great romance inside. And does the dramatic part work? Yes, it does. And is the romance good? Yes, it is. So what’s wrong with The village? As I said, the ending is a bit disappointing. But in my opinion The village deserves to be seen! It has beautiful colors, and it even carries a very interesting message about our society and how to survive the difficulties of life and the violence that surrounds us. Ciao!